By Louis Joseph, M.D. & Denise Joseph, J.D.
Open Sea Institute for Psychiatry, Wellness & Executive Performance Coaching
May 1st, 2023
Many know from direct experience that psychiatric care and coaching of common conditions such as depression, anxiety, burnout, and workplace behavioral issues unequivocally improve business outcomes at individual and organizational levels. Open Sea Institute has successfully partnered with diverse clientele in the finance and technology sectors to facilitate improvements in the realms of productivity, absenteeism, employee retention, workplace morale, and ultimately, the organizational bottom line. For decades, it has also been known that organizations can enhance employee performance metrics by way of workplace psychosocial programming, commonly referred to as employee assistance programs or employee mental wellness programs. Research data on such interventions is impressive, demonstrating anywhere from a 5-10x return on investment. Gains are often seen in the previously mentioned metrics of productivity, absenteeism, employee retention, workplace morale, and overall organizational performance.1,3
Despite the present-day societal shift towards automation and artificial intelligence, human beings are still the linchpin of organizations. Employee mental health and wellness interventions are more valuable than ever considering the alarming reported decline in mental health worldwide as measured in population health research.4,5 This information is not the province of the ivory tower. Recent reputable polls of the general population indicate that 90% of adults in the United States believe that the country is experiencing a mental health crisis.2
Perhaps you have noticed a decline in mental health in our society? The increasing frequency of mass shootings and suicides are unfortunate and ultimately, destabilizing byproducts. Even as we write this, we receive an alert on our phones announcing that a swarm of crisis negotiators has surrounded America’s largest mall, now undergoing attempted evacuation in response to an armed gunman. We are trending in a dangerous direction as a society. Mental destabilization has the potential to bleed into every facet of our human-driven societal infrastructure.
In business, the simultaneously glaring but overlooked metric of employee mental wellness should loudly declare itself a dimension to assign value when activist hedge funds and private equity firms source investments. For the investment professionals reading this article, ask yourself the following questions:
When was the last time you or your organization acquired an investment that had human employees?
When was the last time you or your organization examined the quality of an acquisition target’s employee assistance program when conducting your due diligence?
When was the last time you or your organization examined the quality of an existing portfolio company’s employee assistance program?
If you answered “no” to either of the last two questions above, you are not alone. You were never taught how to do this. It is not your fault.
An examination of a company’s employee health and wellness and its subsequent optimization has traditionally not played a role in many investment strategies. However, a select number of investment professionals are now coming to realize that investment in employee mental health and wellness at portfolio company and fund levels can yield countless benefits. It makes sense, right?
When buying a real estate investment, boat, plane, or antique automobile, it is logical to consider the condition of the investment prior to purchase. You would also want to perform ongoing maintenance on the investment and repair it when it is not functioning optimally. One should make the same considerations when they are buying an organization—essentially, a group of human individuals– ideally united for a common cause. Economists would coin this a consideration of human capital.
In an era where socially conscious investing has become part of the larger societal conversation and a mounting pressure with which fund managers have to contend, optimization of the mental health and wellness of employees is an intervention that creates an, “everybody wins” scenario.
Employees benefit from their improved mental health and exhibit improved performance at work. Investors profit financially and from the satisfaction that their funds are being utilized to improve the mental wellbeing of employees. You, the investment manager, become the lead agent of change who creates beneficial outcomes for your organization and who contributes to beneficial outcomes for society at large.
At Open Sea Institute, we partner with organizations informed enough to seek our collaboration. Mental health and wellness is fundamental to human intraorganismal health. Mental health and wellness is also fundamental to human-driven and human-focused intraorganizational health. The human brain is a master organ that not only exerts influence over all other organ systems in the body through electrochemical and hormonal messaging, but the external environment through human behavior and ultimately human work product.
We not only assist organizations by directly tending to personal and organizational mental health and wellness, but by assessing the fidelity of acquisition target/portfolio company employee assistance programs. We can then advise on how to optimize programming and we can measure impact when the opportunity presents itself. We have an established track record of elevating mental health and wellness across populations of people with meaningful outcomes.6
Please visit us at OpenSea.Institute to learn more.
- Flanagan, P., (Accessed Apr 2023). http://www.easeprogram.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/EAP_ROI.pdf
- McPhilips, D. (2022). (Accessed Apr 2023). 90% of US adults say the United States is experiencing a mental health crisis, CNN/KFF poll finds. https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/05/health/cnn-kff-mental-health-poll-wellness/index.html
- Shepell, M. (2020). Workplace Outcome Suite (WOS) Annual Report 2020: Part 1 – Decade of Data on EAP Counseling Reveals Prominence of Presenteeism. White paper. Toronto, ON: Morneau Shepell. Author: Attridge, M. https://wellbeing.lifeworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/WOS-annual-report-2020-part1-.pdf
- Yasgur, BS. (2022). (Accessed Apr 2023). ‘Alarming’ Worldwide Decline in Mental Health. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/970306
- (June 2022) (Accessed Apr 2023). Nearly one billion people have a mental disorder: WHO. https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/06/1120682
- Joseph L., Joseph D., Wu C.. Harnessing the Power of Community to Prevent Pediatric Suicide. Psychiatric Annals, pp125-28. Vol 50. No 3; 2020.